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Hamtastic

December 24, 2009

I figure there is a fighting chance that people will read this post before the big holiday meal, and I have some critical information for those of you who will be enjoying a HoneyBaked® ham.

It’s so important that I’m going to put it before the jump.  I never do that.  I always make you click to read more and then wade through some kind of relevant anecdote before I give you the one little nugget of information you want.

So here it is, direct from the official serving instructions of the producer:

HEATING MAY CAUSE THE HAM TO DRY OUT AND LOSE FLAVOR.

 

The caps and the bold face are mine, but really this statement needs to be much more strongly emphasized on the packaging instructions.

As far as industrially produced meat products go, you could do worse than choosing a HoneyBaked® ham.

I count myself a fan from my very first experience with the product in Raf’s Miami kitchen, wolfing down leftovers with my fingers while standing in front of the open refrigerator.  If he hadn’t laid down the guilt about his family’s plan to eat that remaining ham for another meal, surely I would not have stopped until it was gone.  This was back in my high school days, when I did some serious eating.

The downside to the ham is that whatever the company does to make it superdelicious also makes it very fragile.

To heat it is to ruin it, inside and out.  The meat dries out and loses its salinity.  It needs the saltiness to balance the sweetness of the glaze.  And the mysteriously crunchy and impossible glaze melts away like a day-old ice sculpture.

How do I know this?
I have had far too many ruined HoneyBaked® hams.

The problem is that people either don’t read the instructions, or pay them no heed.  They foolishly prioritize their desire for a warm ham over the tasty intersection of agriculture and technology purchased for the occasion.

The other problem is that as a guest in someone’s house, I have never been able to find a polite way of stopping them from ruining their ham.

Them: “How long do you think this ham should go in the oven?”
Fussy: “I’m pretty sure it’s just supposed to be served room temperature.”
Them: “No, no, no. We always warm it up.”
Fussy: “You don’t happen to have the instructions from the store?”
Them: “I don’t need the instructions, I’m sure it will be fine.”

Short of jumping in front of the oven to block their path, I have found that a determined ham-ruiner cannot be stopped.

At least now if you end up in some similar bind, you can always break out your trusty mobile internet device, and refer your host to this post for the proper care and feeding of that delicious smoked, spiral-sliced and miraculously glazed joint of meat.

You are welcome.  And just in case you don’t check in tomorrow, Merry Christmas.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Vanessa Gabor permalink
    December 24, 2009 11:38 am

    Thank you Daniel! I have a Honey Baked Ham in the fridge now. This is the second time that I have made one. I am ALWAYS confused by the directions. I have read them…thought there must be a mistake. How could I not heat the ham? For today’s feast I was just trying to decide how exactly not to follow the directions..I feel compelled to heat it! Should I just take it out now let it get to room temp and heat quickly? Are you suggesting following the directions and serving chilled ham…EEK

    • December 24, 2009 1:32 pm

      The ham is meant to be served at room temperature. So that would mean no heating at all. Zero heating. The ham stays out of the oven. You don’t have to make it. It is already made.

      The hope is that you take the chill off the meat by leaving out of the refrigerator before it is served. I too would not want to serve chilled ham. They say half an hour is sufficient. This could be because they are bound by food safety regulations, and cannot advise anyone to take it out for longer. You may be more comfortable taking it out longer, especially if you have a crowd and do not expect leftovers.

      IF you cannot bring yourself to keep it out of the oven, please do me a favor: Take a few inconspicuous slices off the cold ham and put them aside. Then you can compare for yourself the way the ham is supposed to taste versus what happens to the meat after being exposed to heat.

  2. Kerosena permalink
    December 28, 2009 4:15 pm

    I promise not to put my honey baked ham in the oven. I received a gift certificate, but at the moment I’m kind of burnt out on salty, meaty things. I’ll save the gc for a later date.

  3. kerosena permalink
    April 5, 2010 10:01 am

    Ok, so I used my gift certificate for Honey Baked Ham. We moved into our new house last week, and I hosted my first family holiday yesterday. It was a success, but I had this fussy little post running through my head.

    I picked up the ham on Saturday at a very busy Honey Baked Store. No instructions were offered to me, but I did overhear an employee telling another customer to heat the ham at 275 in the oven. When I checked the packaging, the label suggested heating the individual slices in the microwave (really), or serving it at room temp.

    When I called my mother, she was absolutetly *scandalized* at the idea of eating ham that wasn’t HOT. This was dinner, after all, and was I really going to invite people to my house and not serve them a hot meal???

    So in the case of Mom v. Fussy, Mom won. I heated the ham in a 300 oven for ‘long enough’. The cut edge became baked and crispy. It looked delicious, but I served it to my grandfather, so I don’t know for sure. The rest of the ham was juicy and very, very salty. Guests seemed to enjoy it, and truthfully, the saltiness did not prevent me from eating my share. Some of that nice crunch glaze melted off in the oven. I made sure to drag some of the slices of ham through the small puddle of yummy burnt sugar, but I do believe some of it was lost.

    I’d give the Honey Baked Ham experience 3 stars out of 5. It was very easy, served plenty of people, and was tasty despite the saltiness. Plus it was free, since I won the gift certificate from Table Hopping by writing a few lines about how my cat invented “The Bacon Dance.”

    I had about $5.00 left on the gc after getting the ham, and I knew I would lose the card before I made it back, so I took advantage of HBH’s ‘25% off anything else when you buy a ham’ sale. The side dishes all looked incredibly fatty and/or sweet, so I used the gc with $6.00 of my own to get a rack of their pork ribs. They are the pre-cooked, pre-sauced variety, and will remain in the freezer until my sodium level returns to normal. I’ll report back on the ribs at that time.

    Thanks for your efforts in spreading the word about HBH.

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